New Census Bureau data released today show federal programs are keeping millions of Americans out of poverty. Social Security, refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) continue to be the largest anti-poverty programs. Other programs, such as energy and housing assistance, also play key roles in supporting families to meet their basic needs.
Social Security alone kept 27 million Americans out of poverty in 2017. Over 40 percent of the 3.4 million people SNAP kept out of poverty are children. Although the data don’t measure the impact of Medicare and Medicaid, 10.9 million people were in poverty due to the burden of medical expenses. This figure would likely be much larger if not for Medicare and Medicaid.
Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have called for cutting some of these key investments, even as they add $1.9 trillion to the debt to pay for tax giveaways for the wealthy. The proposed House farm bill would place onerous requirements on SNAP beneficiaries, making it impossible for many families to put food on the table. Additionally, the latest House Republican budget called for trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
When child poverty alone costs the nation over $1 trillion annually, we should be building on these investments, not undermining them. Instead of attacking effective anti-poverty programs, policymakers should work to give children and families the foundation to succeed and achieve their economic potential.
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